Renowned Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Jain leaders made history during the last day of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, pledging to combat climate change through the power of faith, organized and led by the Global Interfaith WASH alliance.
Thirteen of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. At the same time, natural calamities are increasing in force and severe water shortages are being noted in places of former abundance.
The revered interfaith leaders focused specifically, emphatically and passionately on choices and decisions each of us makes in our lives every day which either exacerbate or mitigate climate change.
Participating Faith Leaders Included:
1. H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President, Parmarth Niketan and Co-Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
2. Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Founder and Director, Agape Spiritual Ministries
3. Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi: President, All-India Association of Imams
4. Bhai Sahib Satpal Khalsa
5. Maulana Luqman Tarapuri-a-Deobandi Alim: National President, Global Imam Council (India)
6. Dharma Master Hsin Tao, founder and president of museum of world religions.
7. Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
8. Rabbi Yonatan Neril, Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development
9. Dr. Binny Sareen of the Brahmakumaris
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Co-Chair of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “God has given us each the veto power. The future of the planet is in your hands. We must live simply so that others may simply live. We must shift our focus from greed to need and from speed to direction! In the face of glaring evidence, one can no longer deny the crisis of global warming, nor that the state of the health of our Mother Earth and all those with whom we share it, will quickly worsen unless dramatic actions are taken by each of us, every day. That is why leaders of our world’s faiths came together today to announce their commitments as a unified force for a healthy Earth.”
The world is one of faith, in which over 83% of the world’s population practices a religion. This places faith-based organizations in a unique position to ensure dynamic change on the ground.
Prior to their formal pledges, faith leaders shared insights that personal choices can lead to significant impacts on the future health of our planet. Among the most startling of revelations was the United Nations calculation that the climate emissions of greenhouse gases from the livestock industry is nearly 20 percent of the global total. This is more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
Said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “Most of us look only toward our governments to preserve our planet, to solve the climate change crisis. We sign petitions and go on marches. But there is much more we can do. Everything we eat, everything we buy and everything we wear has a direct impact on our Earth and all our brothers and sisters across the planet.”
Rabbi Yonatan Neril emphasized: “We must demand that faith leaders speak on these issues for our environment. The more they talk about climate change, the more people will think about it and take action to mitigate it.”
Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith shared: “If everyone takes baby steps every day, beginning with a revolution of our forks, it will make a mighty and lasting difference. Let us not only just have a sustainable relationship with our planet, but rather let’s have a blissful one, leaving behind footprints of beauty. ”
Imam Umer Ahmed Iliasi, president of the All India Imam’s Association and Imam Luqman Tarapuri, the Regional President of the Global Imam Council, both expressed their full commitment on a personal level as well as on behalf of their large organizations and all of the imams to work together for this great cause, to mitigate climate change through our choices, through our actions, and through our decisions. They both said they would take this message back to their communities and their congregations to bring about a great change in the Muslim communities of India and the world. They both pledged to bring all of the imams together to pray, to preach and to work to protect and preserve the planet.
Satpal Singh Khalsa said: “what we do today will bear results for future generations. People trust religious leaders more than anyone else. They must combine forces for change.”